The following passage from Michel Houellebecq’s novel The Elementary Particles is part of a dialog between half brothers Michel and Bruno. Otherwise, context unimportant:
When Bruno arrived at about nine o’clock, he had already had a couple of drinks and was eager to talk philosophy. “I’ve always been struck by how accurate Huxley was in Brave New World,” he began before he’d even sat down. “It’s phenomenal when you think he wrote it in 1932. Everything that’s happened since simply brings Western society closer to the social model he described. Control of reproduction is more precise and eventually will be completely disassociated from sex altogether, and procreation will take place in tightly guarded laboratories where perfect genetic conditions are ensured. Once that happens, any sense of family, of father-son bonds, will disappear. Pharmaceutical companies will break down the distinction between youth and old age. In Huxley’s world, a sixty-year-old man is as healthy as a man of twenty, looks as young and has the same desires. When we get to the point that life can’t be prolonged any further, we’ll be killed off by voluntary euthanasia; quick, discreet, emotionless. The society Huxley describes in Brave New World is happy; tragedy and extremes of human emotion have disappeared. Sexual liberation is total—nothing stands in the way of instant gratification. Oh, there are little moments of depression, of sadness or doubt, but they’re easily dealt with using advances in anti-depressants and tranquilizers. ‘Once cubic centimeter cures ten gloomy sentiments.’ This is exactly the sort of world we’re trying to create, the world we want to live in.
“Oh, I know, I know,” Bruno went on, waving his hand as if to dismiss an objection Michel had not voiced. “Everyone says Brave New World is supposed to be a totalitarian nightmare, a vicious indictment of society, but that’s hypocritical bullshit. Brave New World is our idea of heaven: genetic manipulation, sexual liberation, the war against aging, the leisure society. This is precisely the world that we have tried—and so far failed—to create.”
3 thoughts on ““Brave New World Is Our Idea of Heaven” — A Passage from Michel Houellebecq’s Novel The Elementary Particles”
I got half way through The Possibility of an Island before realising that not only is Houellebecq a medicre writer but his (so-called) philosophy is cramped into the far right corner – racist and misogynist. I could maybe forgive the ‘ists’ if his writing allowed him to create characters with depth – it doesn’t.
The question remains of course: who is the ‘we’ that Bruno speaks of? One must always beware of those who say ‘we’ (oui?) with too much enthusiasm!
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